First-Past-the-Post and the mandate/popular vote

Gabrielle Hamer
Mind Map by Gabrielle Hamer, updated more than 1 year ago
Gabrielle Hamer
Created by Gabrielle Hamer over 6 years ago



Resource summary

First-Past-the-Post and the mandate/popular vote
  1. FPTP and the Mandate
    1. One supposed purpose of elections is to grant those elected to government a mandate to govern,. However, FPTP rarely results in a govt. that can claim to have the support of more than 50% of those who voted, nevermind 50% of those eligible to vote.
      1. Last time a winning party in the GE won more than 50% of votes cast was 1935.
        1. In 2005, Labour polled only 9.5 million votes - 35.2% of votes, the lowest share of the vote ever for a winning party & only 21.6% of the electorate!
        2. FPTP and the Popular Vote
          1. FPTP only requires a candidate to secure a simple plurality of votes in order to win rather than achieving an absolute majority. This amounts to a large number of wasted votes - either cast for a losing candidate or the one who has already secured enough to win
            1. In Walton 2010 for example 29, 440 of the 34, 332 votes cast were wasted.
            2. Also popular to win more votes nationally under FPTP (i.e. higher share of the popular vote) and yet win fewer seats, by winning some seats by large margins and losing others by small margins.
              1. In the 1950, 1951 and feb 1974 GEs, the winning party gained fewer votes nationally than the opposition. Such results reduce the legitimacy of govt.
                1. In the 2015 GE, the SNP won 56 seats on 1, 454 436 votes whilst the Lib Dems won only 8 despite having 2, 415862 votes and UKIP only won one seat despite having 3, 881099 votes, more votes than the SNP and Lib Dems combined.
              2. Victory in the GE depends disproportionately on the actions of floating voters in a number of key marginal seats. Given that a candidate only needs a majority of one vote to win a seat, there is little point in campaigning in seats like Walton, Liverpool.
                1. Here Labour had a majority of 19, 818!!
                  1. Makes more sense to focus campaign efforts on seats such as Hampstead & Kilburn (only 42 votes in 2010)
                    1. This can result in campaigns that are unduly focused on the concerns of floating voters/ 'the undecided'. Only 111 seats changed hands 2010-2015. Nearly 1/2 in Scotland.
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